Facebook for the Fainthearted?


I have just read a BBC online article dated 21/10/2013 and felt it was of sufficient importance to remind all of us (and parents in particular) about the perils of social media and Facebook. Am not posting the full URL link because I think the article – whilst not graphic in nature – is disturbing enough, possibly to adults of a more sensitive disposition.

To put the article in context, I’ll quote John Carr, who sits on the executive board of the UK government’s Council on Child Internet Safety. “I have seen some of these videos – they are profoundly shocking, Facebook has taken leave of its senses. Those videos will fuel countless nightmares among the young and the sensitive.” And the view has already been established by the Family Online Safety Institute (a member of Facebook’s own Safety Advisory Board) which complained in May 2013 that they “crossed a line”. There is a list of other groups taking this view and what struck really me was the long term psychological damage that can be caused by just a few seconds of exposure.

The article puts this “line” into broad context, i.e. this being a freedom of speech versus safety issue. Whilst I recognise fully the value of Facebook, my ongoing concern is that you have to be something of an ICT security expert to fully comprehend Facebook’s increasingly complex settings. The purpose of this post is to share my concern as a parent, not to alarm anyone, nor take any view on the merits or otherwise of Facebook.

Article ID is here….. /news/technology-24608499


Valentine’s Day Massacre


Burning Tar

© Lachertenok | Dreamstime.com

JPS Lotus. I liked the car,
Gold on black, medium tar.
So at 19, I had a drag on it,
But frankly, it tasted like shit.
If I had a million to give,
I’d remind that many how to live.
Cash and tobacco for influence,
Health lobbyists bullied into defence.
A formula for our lives or those jobs?
Coffins carried out amidst tear-felt sobs.
Marlboro Man looking cool on his steed,
But from his wheelchair, his aching heart bleeds.
Your Majesty’s government, I owe you a new spin,
Your addiction to money has my filthy old habit packed in!

JP Morris
No.1 Embassy Estates
Lambert City
United Tastes

31st December 1997

Mi Amor

© Vladi Samodarov | Dreamstime.com

Candles of harmony flicker in evening’s hue,
Libran blue, how I feel about you.
Slow burning serenity over troubled water.
Your values I can neither question nor falter.

A slow start if I recall,
Into emptiness we wouldn’t fall.
Soft Spanish eyes, so deep and brown,
In that special place, I can now be found.

Relationships had to be endured,
So when I found you, I could be assured.
On first sight of you, my chin hit the floor!
To save face, I was half-ignored,
But in your presence, I was fully absorbed.

How I hungered for your first kiss,
In my youth, you were sorely missed.
Now they fall upon me like a shower,
And buds of joy burst into flower.

Cloud nine,
That giggly heart of mine.
Loneliness, that swine.
Now having fun is fine,
Your sweet love, so divine.

15th March 1998

Collecting CD’s

Collecting CDs

1996  A.D

Another collection…TV, spotlight, discs, an odd slipper, an overcoat.
Memories cannot be left behind, as I credit my fund of knowledge;
An account that lingers in red;
A Queen of Hearts will move me into black,
Only for Hell’s joker to saunter through and squander my hand.
Bound for another town and another job, amassing the stop gaps.
More gaps than chapters, but each gap builds the book they call ‘life’,
furnishing a long chronicle to sit amongst the sleeping masses;
they fill libraries as we do graveyards.

2010 A.D.

In the New Age, future generations surf over our life stories.
Go on…activate CD; resurrect me.
The disc was first collected by me.
A virtual photo album snapshots civilisations past,
Its idiosyncrasies provide a muse for the curious surferette,
Where ordinary legends can be launched from PC-TV.
Transmit them to your French pen pal over the ‘Net.

2100 A.D.

The begrudgers of history will find no disc space out in the future,
archived in dormant libraries on the I-way’s death row,
sentenced to a lifetime in downtown Alpha-Purgatory.
Hey look! There’s grandfather, father, daughter and son!
Related first by blood and then by inherited CD.
Technology ensures their lifetimes will run continually.

2200 A.D.

No more Anno Domini, what She giveth, She taketh away.
She comes to collect; an experiment; overgrown.
All human records are commandeered; a new Project beckons.
Will our remains ever be re-sown?
Or will our DNA mapping direct us to the great library in the sky?
Perhaps the map was divinely encrypted.
Unable to disengage from it’s self-destructive course.
Banished by its architect-in-chief,
Plunging us into an infinite equation beyond our best
Scientific and intuitive concept.

El inF?

January 1996

Irish road signs explained!

The road sign below is a pleasant reminder that the best way to find your way around Ireland is to…..well…err….ignore the road signs! Reminded me of something me mum once said which was based on her experience of growing up in rural north Donegal. And when I say rural, I mean rural. When a stranger asks you how to get from here to there, the response always being the same, wherever you are, whoever you are:

“Well sir/madam…you go straight down that road and that will take you wherever you want to get to.” Now this may sound funny, unhelpful or even spiritual depending on where you are coming from, or in this case, going to. But I can assure you dear reader; the directions were uttered with 100 per cent sincerity!

Anyone who can guess correctly where this particular signpost is situated wins a FREE compass and a 12 month subscription to ‘Unhelpful Irish erections daily’. Closing date to be announced so watch this space folks.

WTF?! Is this a WiFi wet spot???

Follower – By Seamus Heaney


My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horse strained at his clicking tongue.

An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the headrig, with a single pluck
Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.

I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod.

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.

Seamus Heaney

Me, Myself and Facebook


What is it about Facebook? Since separating from my wife, its usefulness has oscillated between that of a lifeline, stable friend and emotional crutch.

Having reached my lowest ebb, I have considered filing divorce proceedings with Facebook, if not a trial separation, to see if we can reconcile our differences. But alas, I am increasingly struck by the futility of such a manoeuvre. Since it can only enable me to avoid the need for self discipline. And it has also occurred to me that my virtual life, to one degree or another, simply reflects the essence of my human existence.

Yes, social networking fatigue has caught up with me. It being the culmination of my own behaviours, stemming from difficult circumstances in which I played my part. To blame others, or something, can only serve to sustain my unhappiness. So it is about rediscovering my spiritual centre ground.

Amusingly, a friend of mine who shares this grudging embrace of Facebook, described once how not being on Facebook casted you as “some sort of social leper”. This continues to amuse me. How two grumpy middle-aged men can unite against something that many perceive to be a common source of twenty first century angst.

Separation devastated me, producing a perfect storm that unleashed a whole series of bereavements. In its wake, my deep seated fear of being alone paralyzed me and isolated me from the very people and resources I needed. Facebook and the Internet in general provided me with a false centre ground. Situated between two choices; that of isolation and reconnecting with the wider world. It was fear that propelled me to this unhappy place; a place removed from the joys of meeting people in their glorious imperfection.

So there you have it. Centre ground, balance, self discipline, authenticity. These are the behaviours and habits that will help me redress matters. It’s important to feel compassion for myself, as strange as that may seem. Compassion is the only route to recovery. A sprinkling of compassion and courage is all I need to re-engage with life itself.

As I venture towards tomorrow, I can’t help but peer into the near horizon and 2014. I can only envision a happier and healthier existence. Where Facebook knows its place and moreover, I know mine.

12th October, 2013